The Maryland Executive Helicopter Advisory Committee made the right decision Tuesday when it recommended buying two more high-speed medevac choppers to give around-the-clock service to injured residents of Southern Maryland and the upper shore. The $10 million price tag is a small price for enhanced emergency medical care.
It was unfortunate, however, that Gov. William Donald Schaefer used the issue for political grandstanding in his dispute with legislators and Lt. Gov. Melvin Steinberg, who chairs the helicopter committee. The panel had already decided on the two new Dauphin helicopters. Tuesday's vote was a formality. Yet there was Mr. Schaefer walking into the meeting and demanding immediate action. It served no useful purpose. As one panel member put it, "It's a little like showing up at sunrise and demanding that the sun come up."
Perhaps now the posturing can end and the state can concentrate on improving its medical emergency system. All areas of the state have the high-speed Dauphin helicopters except the upper shore and Southern Maryland. These two areas are served by slower, single-engine choppers which aren't allowed to fly at night or in bad weather because of safety concerns. Backup choppers cannot always reach these areas in time to get car-crash victims to hospitals within what doctors call the "golden hour."